Unit Group 5123

Skill Type: Occupations in Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport

Type of work

Journalists research, investigate, interpret and communicate news and public affairs through newspapers, television, radio and other media.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • book reviewer
  • broadcast journalist
  • columnist
  • correspondent
  • cyberjournalist
  • investigative reporter
  • journalist
  • network reporter
  • news commentator
  • newspaper critic
  • reporter
  • television news anchorperson


Job prospects in this occupation are limited.

(Update: June 2015)

Having continued to increase sharply until 2000, the number of journalists declined significantly thereafter. The emergence of new job opportunities has not compensated for job reduction in the more traditional sectors. Given that media consolidation, mergers and convergence are expected to hold and even intensify, the number of journalists should continue to decrease significantly in the next few years.

Sources of employment

Career opportunities will arise primarily from the relatively high turnover rate and from positions that become available by journalists who are retiring or being promoted to management. The turnover rate is especially high for freelances and contractors. Some journalists leave this profession to work in other areas of communications: public relations, media relations officer and so on. Turnover in the same occupation is fairly high. For example, many journalists start their career with a small media outlet and continue as freelances. A minority then go on to work as researchers or generalist reporters with large media outlets, then move to more prestigious and better paying jobs as specialized journalists, columnists and editorial writers.

Labour pool

The labour pool is relatively big. No specific training is needed to become a journalist. However, journalists usually have to have a bachelor's degree in some field. Studies in communication and letters are particularly useful, but courses as diverse as law, political science, economics and history can also lead to this occupation. A Diploma of Collegial Studies (DEC) in Media communication technology may be adequate, especially if accompanied with work experience, volunteer work or internships in student or community newspapers. Some openings will be filled by experienced journalists who are out of work. Some positions are expected to be filled by immigrants who meet employers' requirements. Although the percentage of immigrants in this occupation in 2011 was lower than in all occupations (10% compared with 14%, according to National Household Survey data), positions are accessible to newcomers.

Most positions that will become vacant in major media will be filled by candidates with experience in small media or as freelancers. Because of the great interest in this occupation, competition for vacant positions is fierce.

According to data from the provincial government Relance Survey, the labour market status of people who have a DEC in media communication with a major in journalism is at once good and bad. On the one hand, the unemployment rate is usually very low. On the other, the rate of placement in a full-time job related to their training is lower than among all technical school graduates. The vast majority of those who do find a job in their field become journalists, but approximately half of all graduates opt to continue their education, using the media communication program as a stepping stone to university. In short, some employers hire these graduates right out of school, both others seem to give priority to university graduates or require college graduates to have some experience.

The labour market situation of university graduates with a bachelor's and master's degree in communications and journalism is less favourable than for all bachelor's and master's graduates. This situation is, however, not really related to this occupation, as less than 15% of bachelor's and master's graduates hold journalist positions a year and a half after having completed their studies. Depending on the year, three to five times as many of these graduates (more than 45 %) are likely to hold a position in professional occupations in public relations and communications (see 5124). Their situation could deteriorate over the next few years, however. The number of graduates increased more than 60% between 1999 and 2011. This means that there is more and more competition for an available number of jobs that will increase far more slowly.


According to National Household Survey data, in 2011, approximately 36% of all journalists worked in broadcasting and about 31% worked in newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishing. A significant number could also be found as freelance journalists (9%).


Changes in employment in this occupation are a function of many opposing trends.

Consolidations and mergers

There have been changes in recent years that resulted in many jobs being eliminated: regional print media consolidations, mergers of radio news services, jobs left vacant by retirees not filled, etc. The merging of media outlets, whereby one corporation acquires various companies in different media industries, such as newspaper, magazine, Internet sites, radio and television, was also detrimental to creating jobs for journalists and researchers. Before the difficulties the media face (see below), this trend should prevail at the very least if not intensify over the next few years, which disadvantage the employment in this occupation.

Reading of newspapers and magazines

According to the primary statistics on culture and communications released by the Institut de la statistique du Québec, the percentage of the public that reads newspapers and magazines has decreased considerably in recent years. Between 1994 and 2004, the rate dropped from 77% to 66% for newspapers and 63% to 53% for magazines. While the rate decreased in all categories of readership by sex, age, language spoken and education, it is still more alarming to note that the decrease was biggest among people between the ages of 15 and 24: from 74% to 55% for newspapers and from 75% to 50% for magazines. Data from Statistics Canada's Survey of Household Spending reflect the same trend, indicating that average household spending on newspapers tumbled more than 80% from 2000 to 2013. They also show that the trend is likely to get much worse over the coming years, since young people under the age of 30 spent close to five times less money on newspapers in 2011 than people aged 65 and over. Moreover, this trend seems to have increased in 2012 and 2013, spending by youth on newspapers became too small to be counted.

Most Quebec newspapers are struggling. This trend is reflected in Statistics Canada data. Actual operating revenue (after inflation) of Quebec newspaper publishers dropped by nearly 20% between 2006 and 2012.

New opportunities

The introduction of speciality channels, the development of specialized media, new methods of distributing information and the ever-growing demand for information has created numerous journalist, researcher and newscaster positions.

Faced with the dwindling popularity and circulation of traditional newspapers, most information enterprises now have Web sites. The goal is to reach clients who have abandoned paper media and develop new sources of income, be it through advertising, subscriptions or archive consultation services. In addition to posting the newspaper's content and archives, these sites often include original features, such as blogs, columnist diaries and celebrity journalists. Some of these sites also provide access to in-depth features, with or without a fee. In addition, many organizations publish articles on the Internet that often are specialized and have specific themes.

Companies, governments and the general public seem to have an insatiable thirst for information. Journalists' skills are increasingly being requested to conduct specific research as information brokers. Brokers are not quite documentalists, information agents or journalists. They research, verify, compile and reorganize information according to the specific needs of their clients.

Information professions are much less compartmentalized. It is not uncommon for athletes, economists, doctors or lawyers to write regular columns in newspapers, just as it is not uncommon to see journalists write books, compose texts for companies, film and edit their own documentaries, translate documents or take photos for their own articles.

Considering all these factors, the number of journalists is expected to decrease significantly over the next few years.

Employment characteristics

According to census and National Household Survey data, women held approximately 49% of the jobs in this occupation in 2011, a percentage that has been rising slightly since 1991 (40%). The annual employment income ($57,991) shown in the "Characteristics" section of the "Statistics" applies only to the 55% of people in this occupation who worked full time and full-year in 2010. The average employment income for those who did not work full time and full-year was $32,295.

Although most journalists have permanent jobs, the number of contractors and freelances is quite high. A journalist can freelance for several newspapers and journals as a salaried employee or a self-employed individual. Another may have a regular job at a newspaper and have freelance contracts for television. Some develop specialities that allow them to obtain enough contracts to live comfortably: agriculture, economics, culture, technologies, and so on. Success in this profession depends largely on the candidate's talent and personal characteristics. This said, the percentage of self-employed workers is much lower than one might think. In 2011, only 15% of journalists were self-employed, slightly more than in all occupations (11%). Moreover, this percentage declined between 1996 and 2011, down from 18% to 15%.

Education and Training

Specific training is not required to become a journalist. Nonetheless, a bachelor's in any field is usually required. Disciplines related to communications and to literature are especially important, but backgrounds as varied as law, political science, economics and history can lead to this profession.

A Diploma of Collegial Studies (DEC) in Media communication technology, specialization in journalism may be adequate, especially if accompanied with work experience, volunteer work or internships in student or community newspapers. In some cases, submitting a portfolio or a demo tape can be an asset.

The bachelor's programs in journalism offered by the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) and Concordia University and the undergraduate and graduate certificates in journalism offered by many universities are major assets.

Useful References

Important Considerations

Finding a job, especially a permanent position in journalism, can be very competitive.

The labour market status of graduates who have a DEC in media communication with a major in journalism is better in some ways and not so good in others compared with technical school graduates as a whole. The labour market status of university graduates in communications and journalism is also slightly below average.

Professions in the field of information are becoming much less compartmentalized.

Statistics 5123 - Journalists

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 5123 All occupations
Employment, average 2011-2013 3,700 3,990,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2013 60 80,700
Average Annual Growth Rate 2014-2018 -1.4% 0.7%
Annual Employment Variation 2014-2018 -50 26,500
Annual Attrition 2014-2018 60 74,300
Total Annual Needs 2014-2018 10 100,800

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 5123 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 51.3% 51.9%
Females 48.7% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 7.3% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 51.5% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 37.1% 41.1%
65 years and over 4.1% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 82.5% 81.2%
Part-time 17.5% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 55.0% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $58,000 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 8.8% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 33.8% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 57.5% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 3.5% 12.1%
High-school 8.1% 20.3%
Post-secondary 29.9% 44.2%
Bachelors 58.4% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 14.7% 10.7%
Immigration 9.9% 13.7%
Employment by Region
Region Unit Group 5123 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 1.0% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 2.6% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 9.0% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 1.3% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 3.4% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 1.4% 1.6%
Estrie 2.8% 3.8%
Gaspésie–îles-de-la-Madeleine 0.3% 0.9%
Lanaudière 2.0% 6.1%
Laurentides 4.5% 7.3%
Laval 2.6% 5.2%
Mauricie 2.8% 3.0%
Montérégie 14.8% 19.2%
Montréal 43.1% 22.9%
Outaouais 5.6% 4.9%
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 2.9% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

Sector Unit Group 5123
Information and Cultural Industries 75.9%
- Broadcasting (except Internet) 36.4%
- Publishing Industries (except Internet) 31.7%
Independent Artists, Writers and Performers (Independent journalists included) 10.1%